Blog Post

Information Materialism: Scholastic Book Orders and the Impulse to Buy

Information Materialism: Scholastic Book Orders and the Impulse to Buy



Hillary Buckholtz, over at Urlesque, has posted a bunch of images of book order forms from Scholastic and Troll—including the one above, which I’m quite certain I got as a child.*

Despite my current research interests, I wasn’t a big library-user as a kid. Instead, I was a book-hoarder. Most of all, I remember buying books at a children’s bookstore up the street from my house—now, alas, a gas station—and through these forms. I remember quite vividly getting them in school and having several days to choose books. When I saw the images in the post, I was suddenly right back in my fourth-grade desk, paging through the colorful and low-quality form,  excited about getting more books to devour. (I was not, as a child, a reader of terribly good books; I was a quantity-over-quality, crappy-series kid.) I also remember delivery days, when all the kids who ordered books would get a box, and we’d spend some time opening them up and comparing hauls.

I think it’s good for me to look back and remember this. It’s a bit too easy at times, spending all my time reading and writing about public libraries, to forget some of the other—and sometimes less salutary—ways that print circulates. This way, for example, is tied up in corporate capitalism and a troubling sort of materialism. For me, the books were stories, yes, but also objects of a rather overwhelming acquisitive impulse. I wanted to read them, but I also wanted, and perhaps wanted more, to own them. (And I totally would have ordered “The Big Pig Eraser,” too.)

Looking around at my apartment now, overrun with so many books that some find themselves stacked on the floor in front of the bookshelves, I think I see what’s becoming a lifelong pattern—for good and also for ill. 


*I’m not exactly thrilled that something from 1991 is being called “vintage,” but I’ll try to survive.


[re-posted from my other blog, bookmobility]


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